Trad­ing places

Pasatiempo - - CONTENTS - Jen­nifer Levin I The New Mex­i­can

Ac­tor-di­rec­tor Melanie May­ron

Melanie May­ron is prob­a­bly best known for her Emmy Award-win­ning turn as Melissa Stead­man on the late-’80s TV se­ries Thir­tysome­thing — the artsy sin­gle woman with the asym­met­ri­cal red hair who rep­re­sented a bit of coun­ter­cul­ture on a show about yup­pies. She made her film de­but in Harry and Tonto (1974) and played a note­wor­thy role as strug­gling pho­tog­ra­pher Su­san Wein­blatt in Girl­friends (1978). Her long act­ing ca­reer in­cludes parts on clas­sic tele­vi­sion shows in­clud­ing Rhoda and The Love Boat. Though she con­tin­ues to act, May­ron now works pri­mar­ily as a di­rec­tor for tele­vi­sion. Re­cent gigs in­clude Grace and Frankie, Pretty Lit­tle Liars, The Fos­ters, Graves, and Jane the Vir­gin ,in which she also has a re­cur­ring role. She re­cently di­rected the fea­ture film Snapshots, an in­ter­gen­er­a­tional drama star­ring Piper Lau­rie and Brooke Adams. It screens at the Santa Fe Film Fes­ti­val on Satur­day, Feb. 10, pre­ceded by a con­ver­sa­tion be­tween May­ron and Aaron Levent­man, the fes­ti­val pro­gram­mer, and fol­lowed by a Q&A with the au­di­ence. May­ron will be hon­ored that evening at the Santa Fe Film Fes­ti­val awards cer­e­mony for her con­tri­bu­tions to film and tele­vi­sion.

When May­ron, who has al­ways iden­ti­fied as a fem­i­nist, first moved to Los An­ge­les from the East Coast in 1974, she stuffed en­velopes as a vol­un­teer at the lo­cal Equal Rights Amend­ment of­fice. They gave her a pin to wear that said “59 Cents,” which was how much women then made in com­par­i­son to ev­ery dol­lar men earned. “I was a broke ac­tor, so I didn’t have any money to do­nate to the cause of get­ting the ERA passed, but I did have time. I went there ev­ery af­ter­noon,” she said.

Re­flect­ing on her ca­reer in light of the #MeToo move­ment, May­ron said: “I wasn’t this beau­ti­ful ac­tress on the rise. I was al­ways the best friend, the sup­port­ing ac­tress, so I didn’t en­counter sex­ual ha­rass­ment. I didn’t have that kind of at­ten­tion put on me. But in terms of sex­ism in the busi­ness, Hol­ly­wood has al­ways been older men paired with younger women. It’s rare to see older ac­tresses. There’s just a few of them — Diane Keaton, Meryl Streep, Frances McDor­mand. There’s a bit of a shelf life for most ac­tresses. You can maybe make it into your thir­ties, and then you’re play­ing doc­tors and lawyers for about 30 years. And then maybe in your seven­ties, you come back and play some good grand­mother and old lady parts.”

May­ron was never con­tent to sit around in her trailer when she was on set, so she of­ten walked around with a cam­era tak­ing pic­tures, or stood by the di­rec­tor of pho­tog­ra­phy and asked ques­tions about how movies were made. “When I worked on

Girl­friends, it was a lot of young peo­ple just out of film school, and it just seemed like ev­ery­body worked to­gether — they had dif­fer­ent jobs, but with the same goal of putting a par­tic­u­lar story up on the screen.”

Some of her co-stars on Thir­tysome­thing di­rected episodes of the se­ries, so May­ron threw her hat in the ring, too. “The begin­ning of the third sea­son, they gave me an episode, and then one at the begin­ning of sea­son four as well,” she said. Af­ter the show was

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